My name is Wang Hongwu, and I would like to tell you about the history of my church – Living Stone Church, in China.
Living Stone Church started in 2009. Services were open to all, and many people came. This drew attention and the local authorities began to visit us. Our church leaders, Pastor Yang (my husband) and Pastor Su said they wanted to have some form of legal recognition for the church, but they would not join the [state-sanctioned organisation known as the] Three Self Patriotic Movement, because they didn’t want to be controlled by the government.
That was when our troubles began.
From 2009 to 2015, every time the church held big activities, for example at Christmas or Easter, or for baptism services, local officials would come and try to intimidate us. Despite this, the church still grew. At Christmas over 1,000 people came to our service. This worried the authorities, and they called my husband and Pastor Su in to the police station to interrogate them all through the night.
But the church leaders persisted, and with God’s help, we continued.
Our church grew very rapidly. In 2009, we had less than 100 people, but in 2015 our congregation had more than doubled in size. We also had other kinds of visitors. Government officials came to every Sunday service, and manufactured other excuses to come and talk to us, for example fire safety, using local laws to try to restrict and punish the church.
Next, our accountant was taken away by the police on her way home after checking the accounts. She was detained for two years and only recently released.
In December 2015 the authorities phoned many members of our congregation and told them they would be arrested if they went to church: 700 government officials surrounded the church building and wouldn’t let anyone in. They also confiscated many things.
From then on, things got even worse. The authorities followed church members to work. If church members were renting their homes, officials forced their landlords to evict them.
Our church used to have more than 20 cell groups. After this incident, many left, afraid of what would happen next.
We have around five small groups now, and we don’t gather all together any more.
Then my husband, Pastor Yang, was arrested. He isn’t allowed a Bible and I can only see him once a month. Since going into prison, his health has been terrible – at one point he could barely walk.
In my view, the Bible says that God will not allow a single hair to fall from our heads. The church may experience persecution, but we still give thanks to God and trust in his will.
But we have come through all this, so we praise God. Please keep praying for us.
- Pray for Wang Hongwu, her husband Pastor Yang, and Living Stone Church.
- For courage, endurance and unity for the remaining members of Living Stone Church
- For protection for Wang Hongwu and the leadership team
- Asking God to strengthen and encourage Pastor Yang as he suffers imprisonment and poor health.